Columns Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

Mormon growth continues to slow, church report shows

Elder Dieter Uchtdorf addresses the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at its General Conference, April 6, 2019. YouTube screen shot.

Membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues to grow and stay in positive territory, unlike other religions which have fallen into numerical decline. However, that growth is noticeably slower than it used to be.

The Church’s 2018 statistical report shows a growth of 1.21% worldwide, which continues the gradual deceleration it has seen:

Year Total membership Difference from previous year Percentage growth
2013 15,082,028

 

+299,555 2.03%
2014 15,372,337 +290,309 1.92%
2015 15,634,199 +261,862 1.70%
2016 15,882,417 +248,218 1.59%
2017 16,118,169 +233,729 1.47%
2018 16,313,735 +195,566 1.21%

The Church has not yet released country-by-country statistics about 2018. In the United States in 2017, growth was .75%, roughly half of the global church rate and on par with population growth that year in the U.S. (.71%).

Elder Dieter Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles appeared at one point to reference this change in the Church’s circumstances during this weekend’s General Conference in Salt Lake City. Speaking in the Saturday morning session, he discussed the current situation and cast it as a missionary opportunity:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has continued to grow. It is now found all across the globe. However, before we bake a cake and throw confetti and congratulate ourselves on this remarkable success, we would do well to put that growth into perspective. There are roughly seven and a half billion people in the world. Compared to some sixteen million members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a very small flock indeed.

Meanwhile the numbers of Christian believers in some parts of the world are shrinking. Even in the Lord’s restored church, while overall membership continues to grow, there are too many who do not claim the blessings of regular church participation.

In other words, wherever you are on this earth, there are plenty of opportunities to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ with people you meet, study and live with, or work and socialize with.

The membership statistics above do not factor in Church activity or who is actually attending; they account for the number of people on the membership rolls, including both active and inactive members.

Ed. note: A longer post about this weekend’s General Conference will be published here at RNS on Monday.


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About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church" (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

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